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Buying or selling a home in Massachusetts
Buying or selling a home in Massachusetts is different than in most other states. So, if you've bought or sold a home in another state, this section is dedicated to you.

A real estate transaction in Massachusetts typically costs more than in other states and can be a bit more complex.

Of course, local customs vary from area to area (even within our state) so don't expect that if your home in another state came with a refrigerator, and without a stove, that will be the case here. Almost everything is negotiable, but the customs in various real estate markets dictate many of the unwritten rules because New Englanders are reluctant to embrace change quickly even in the Internet era.

Here are the main reasons that a Massachusetts real estate transaction is different than in most other states:

1. In most states, "escrow companies" hold deposit money, research titles and handle the details of closing the transaction. In Massachusetts, there are no "escrow" companies. In our state, your escrow deposit is held in a special "escrow" or "client funds account" by either the listing broker or the seller's attorney. Occasionally, the buyer's broker or attorney may hold the deposit. The funds are accounted for when the property closes and you receive credit for your funds on the closing settlement statement.

2. Instead of an escrow company to arrange the details of the closing, the lender's attorney typically conducts the closing. Typically, all parties are present at the closing, including the buyers and sellers, their attorneys and agents as well as the lender's attorney. (The lender's attorney is also known as the "closing" or "conveyancing" attorney.)

3. Instead of signing a single purchase contract (as in most states), most Massachusetts real estate markets use a two-step approach. The first step is the "offer", which is typically handled by the agents and followed with a Purchase and Sale agreement, also known as the P+S. The P+S agreement is a more detailed document than the offer and is typically negotiated and drafted by the buyer's and seller's attorneys, based on a standard P+S form and the details of the offer.

4. Buyers should not expect to get a "warranty deed" for a property in Massachusetts. We typically use "quitclaim" deeds in this state.

Most real estate transactions are unique in some respects. Since attorneys are involved at each step in Massachusetts, many believe that buyers and sellers are better protected than in many other states. The quality of your final Purchase and Sale agreement, which often dictates the quality of your transaction if problems arise, is only as good as the skills that your attorney and agent bring to the transaction. (A good attorney will be able to incorporate the protections that a good agent has negotiated into the offer. A less skilled attorney will often loose the benefits that a good agent has negotiated into the offer.) That is why it essential to use a specialized real estate attorney in Massachusetts whose practice involves the conveyance of real estate on a very regular basis. Therefore, choosing your agent and attorney based on their reputation for advocacy as well as technical skills becomes very important to the final outcome of your transaction.

We are here to help before, during and after your real estate transaction. If you have any questions about real estate transactions in Massachusetts, please feel free to contact us for straight answers or for a referral to a good real estate attorney.

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The Massachusetts Difference
Real Estate

What every seller should know!